I think the most underappreciated factors behind the consolidation in the medical device sector are the favorable growth of the healthcare industry (6% vs 2.5% for US GDP), which allows for long-term planning, and the consolidation that is happening on the provider side at the local and national levels. The latter occurrence puts a premium on product line breadth and economies of scale. It is much more than the ACA...it is also hospitals buying doctor practices and health systems merging. I would expect this trend to continue. Note that I forecast industry growth to increase to its more normalized rate of 6%, given the implementation of the ACA (more people with insurance accessing the system) and the improved economy, which contrasts with the immediate prior period when people delayed non-emergent medical procedures.
For the past two years I have been recommending commodity medical company stocks, due to the reasons cited above, Covidien is an excellent example of such a company. Other possible buyout candidates include HSP, SYK, KMB (healthcare division) and BDX.
Disclosure: The author is long KMB, SYK, BDX, HSP.